Thursday, January 08, 2009

Rove and O'Reilly: Torture keeps us safe

-- by Dave

Bill O'Reilly devoted another Talking Points Memo segment last night to his new pet thesis that Barack Obama is going to make the nation vulnerable to terrorist attack by taking torture off the table, and then brought Karl Rove on to back it all up:

You know, when he gets behind that desk, and has the awesome responsibility of protecting our country, anybody who's chief executive of the United States is going to want to have the ability, in a time of a great crisis, to call upon enhanded interrogation techniques.

A little later, he closes with this:

Look, if you've taken techniques that have kept America safe and you discard them, you are putting the country at risk and you're going to have to bear the consequences of that.

OK, let me see if I can keep this all straight.

We're now getting advice on how to prevent a terrorist attack from "the Brain" of an administration that manifestly failed at that because it was asleep at the wheel on 9/11, am I right? And they're telling us the torture regime they installed in the interim is responsible for the lack of subsequent attacks afterward -- rather than making the likelihood of future attacks greater?

Karl Rove was a key player in an administration that, in the first eight months of its tenure, specifically undermined counterterrorism programs in an essentially political dismissal of such work as "a Clinton thing."

There was the Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily briefing titled "Bin Laden determined to strike in US," which concluded that terrorists planned to attack us using airplanes. It was ignored.

There was that briefing George Tenet gave Condi Rice on the immensity of the threat, which both she and George W. Bush also ignored -- and then lied about doing so afterward. Indeed, Rice and the Bush administration ent to great measures to cover up their own incompetence.

There was the Hart-Rudman Commission report, which warned the White House in May 2001 that it needed to take serious steps to prevent a terrorist attack. The report was ignored.

So was Richard Clarke's memo of January 2001 warning of the terrorist threat.

And finally, there were the Bush White House's pre-9/11 actions on a pure policy level: "Attorney General John Ashcroft not only moved aggressively to reduce DoJ's anti-terrorist budget but also shift DoJ's mission in spirit to emphasize its role as a domestic police force and anti-drug force." The administration also shifted Department of Defense counter-terrorism funding into missile-defense-system programs.

And yet for all that record, everyone in the press -- most especially Bill O'Reilly -- gave the Bush administration a pass for its massive malfeasance on terrorism, and came to believe that the lack of subsequent attacks meant that suddenly this gang knew what it was doing.

Even though what it was doing entailed violating basic international war-crimes laws and stoking the flames of hatred for the United States. As the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate found, Bush's invasion-under-false-pretenses of Iraq has actually made it far more likely we will have to endure future terrorist attacks.

That report noted that "actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement" included "the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal."

In other words, Karl Rove and his Jet Set Junta made it far more likely that we're going to be hit by terrorists in the coming years, the credit going in part to misbegotten torture policies that have been proven ineffective and counterproductive. And calling an end to those policies will make us more vulnerable? Oh really?

And if such an attack happens, it will be Obama's fault, according to Bill O'Reilly. Because only Republicans get to skate when terrorists strike on their watch.

These people are not just crooks and liars. They're also insane.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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